Greenergy converts inedible pies, chips into biodiesel

By Erin Voegele | May 11, 2011

U.K.-based Greenergy International Ltd. has begun manufacturing biodiesel from food waste. On May 5 the company announced a partnership formed with edible oil recycling company Brocklesby Ltd. had resulted in a method to divert unsalable food products, such as chips and pies, from landfills and compost facilities. Instead, these waste items can be converted into biofuel and energy. According to Greenergy, the company’s new initiative will help to reduce the environmental impact of the fuel it produces while also creating a new feedstock base for biodiesel production.

Investments made in Greenergy’s Immingham, England-based biodiesel plant have allowed it to efficiency process used cooking oils. While Biodiesel Magazine was unable to reach a representative of Greenergy for further comment, information released by the company states that the facility is now able to process biodiesel using high-fat solid foods as feedstock, including pies, sausage rolls, pastries and chips. The unsalable food waste that will be utilized by Greenergy will be items considered unfit for sale, including those that are overcooked or expired. “These food products, which typically contain between 25 percent and 30 percent oil and fat, are sourced from a variety of food manufacturers nationally,” said Greenergy in a statement. “Other suitable foods include taramasalata and oil from fish frying containing high quantities of bread crumbs.” According to Greenergy, the fats and oils in these foods are extracted via a process developed by Brocklesby and further purified by Greenergy.

“We’ve always tried to find ways of reducing the environmental impact of our fuel, and as oil prices continue to rise, it’s obviously important to develop alternative sources of fuel. We are pleased to be at the forefront of finding new feedstocks for biodiesel production,” said Greenergy Chief Executive Andrew Owens. “The quantities of biodiesel that we’re currently producing from solid food waste are small, but we’re expecting to scale up so that this soon becomes a significant proportion of our biodiesel. To put it into context, just one of these new facilities could handle enough waste pies or crisps to fill a cruise ship. With multiple plants, the potential for this kind of technology to reduce fuel emissions is considerable. It’s great to be taking these products, which would otherwise have gone to landfill or compost, and turning them into a new source of fuel”.

Solid food items that remain following oil extraction are currently dried and composted or introduced into anaerobic digestion systems. However, Greenergy notes that in the future this waste could be used as a feedstock for ethanol production. It could also be used to make biomass fuel pellets or briquettes.

In fact, Greenergy seems to be building a new business division around the conversion of food and industrial waste into fuel. Information posted to the company’s website states that the company has formed Scarab Distributed Energy Ltd. to develop novel way to produce fuel and power from these forms of solid waste. “By producing biofuel produced from a wide variety of currently underutilized waste streams, we hope that Scarab will further improve our access to the most sustainable sources of biofuel.” According to Greenergy, Scarab plans to build distributed waste and biomass processing facilities all around the U.K. These facilities will be capable of processing any form of industrial food waste, including those containing sugar, starch, fat, protein and cellulose. 


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